Review: Neon Lobster Taquerie at Alpha Box & Dice

Review: Neon Lobster Taquerie at Alpha Box & Dice

neon lobster taquerie berrytravels
neon lobster taquerie berrytravels

neon lobster taquerie berrytravels

neon lobster taquerie berrytravels

neon lobster taquerie berrytravels

neon lobster taquerie berrytravels

neon lobster taquerie berrytravels

What do you do when you are winding down from all the Christmas eating, need a break from the crazy frenzied season, and just need to chill?

You head to the hottest popup in town: the Neon Lobster Taquerie by the Happy Motel guys who had set up shop at Alpha Box & Dice.

The experience starts from when you get out of the car. The wafting smells lead you in, followed by the sound of joyful laughter from relaxed and happy people. We (myself, Natasha and her sister) got ourselves set up with some Sangria and then joined the queue of eager eaters. Make no mistake, it was a very long queue. Combine that with a very hot day, it really wasn’t my preferred choice of entertainment. However, the allure of tacos, the amazing smell, and the sizzling beef on the bbq made me grit my teeth and stayed in the line I did.

Was it worth it? Oh, many times over. The decision to brave the sun is not taken lightly, given I love chilly weather and hate the sun, but this was worth it many times over. For myself, I devoured the ‘shark’ taco along with the char beef skirt taco. Swooned over the impeccable flavours, the taste of which filled my mouth and sent shivers down my spine. It was the stuff dreams are made of, and then more. Granted, the serving sizes could have been bigger. 4 tacos later and I wasn’t really at my happy level yet. However, as I stood in line for my second shot at this wonder food, the dreaded yell of “Sold out” came echoing down the line. It was not meant to be.

If you see these guys popping up, you have to go. It’s that good.

Neon Lobster Taquería (The Happy Motel) on Urbanspoon

Review: Mad Mex, Melbourne central

Review: Mad Mex, Melbourne central

I have something a little different for you lot today. I would like to officially welcome a new addition to the Berrytravels family! Two new additions actually – my two good friends: Violet and Jimmy. They are starting to learn the beauty of food, so what better way to share than to blog about it?

Today’s post is written by Jimmy, and seeing as it’s mexican food, I think he is definitely the expert! Hope you enjoy.

Mad Mex – Fresh Mexican Grill
(03) 9663 7010
Level 2, Dining Hall, Melbourne Central
Melbourne, 3000
Mad Mex online

Have you ever been walking through a food court and thought “man, I could really go for Mexican, but I wish it was prepared on an assembly line like at Subway!” no, me either, but as it turns out this is a fantastic idea and I’ll tell you why.

I’m a picky eater…a reeeaaallly picky eater, but I have a good reason. I’m allergic to fruits and veg. No, really, I am. It’s because of this allergy that I have become a master of eating around things, but when I go to Subway I don’t have to worry about it.

“Lettuce?”
“Nope”
“Carrot?”
“Nope”
“Any salads at all?”
“No thanks!”

Well Mad Mex has incorporated a similar ordering system. First you choose from a selection of seven Mexican dishes including tacos, burritos and quesadillas. Then you continue in the queue and choose your fillings, such as chicken, steak or vegetarian and you can add extra meat for another $2. Then the last part of the queue, choose which salsas you would like. This is where the queue system really shines for picky people like me. I said, “Just a very little bit of capsicum thanks” and he said “Would you like me to put in a container on the side for you?” *enter bright lights and a chorus of angels* That is EXACTLY what I would like thank you very much.

This isn’t just great for picky people like me either! They offer a range of very spicy options and if you are feeling adventurous but don’t want to ruin your meal, you can ask for just a little bit of the picante habanero chilli or have it on the side in a little container! It’s all done right in front of you, so you have complete control. Mad Mex has a team of 5-7 people working behind the counter and each one is responsible for each station. The whole process is very efficient and so as we queued, even though there were around 10 people in front of us we were in and out very quickly. This ensures that the food is fresh, made to order, but still fast so you don’t waste your lunch break waiting for someone to make your food.

So how’s the food? Well let me tell you, I grew up in Texas and for those of you who don’t know American geography, that’s one of the states that borders Mexico. Also I’ve been to Mexico. I’ve only had Mexican here once, Montezuma’s, and I have to say, I wasn’t impressed. The food was SO heavy and oily, not very nice. You get halfway through it and feel like you’re going to explode. Mad Mex uses locally sourced ingredients for things like lettuce and corn, but they also import things like tomatillo’s and Mexican spices and peppers by the container full from Mexico. You can really taste the difference. Even the tortilla chips are made by a Mexican family in NSW using an old family recipe. For $2 extra you can add guacamole to any dish and while this may seem a bit expensive at first, but my dining partner Violet said the herbs and spices they add to the specific type of Avocado make it the best she has ever had. Verdict: totally worth the extra money.

The staff? Couldn’t be nicer. We weren’t sure if it’s just because we were reviewing the restaurant or if it’s just because they had only been working for a few day but when we went back a few weeks later they were still incredibly friendly. The first time we dined there, despite the fact that they had only been working for a few days, they knew all the proper names of the ingredients, could tell me what level of spicy things were and didn’t mind dealing with my pickyness. You can even watch the chef cooking through a window at the side of the restaurant.

What would I recommend? Everything. But on a more realistic note, the pork was amazing. All the meat was incredibly tender and juicy but the pork is slow roasted for hours, marinated with garlic, onion, lime and cumin and literally just falls apart. The beef is also slow roasted, but the chicken and steak are all grilled fresh on site. The menu was clear and very easy to follow.

I had the chicken Quesadilla which comes with sour cream and two salsas. The salsa’s (something I can’t usually eat) were phenomenal. So much flavour and yet not overpowering. Violet had the vegetarian Burrito (free guacamole) and her only complaint was that it was too big so she couldn’t finish it!

What else? DELICIOUS churros with chocolate sauce of course! I would say that the chocolate sauce was a bit too rich for my taste. It seemed like it was made with dark chocolate and I prefer milk, but that’s just my taste. The churros were light and fluffy with a slightly crispy crust, which are what I grew up on. Violet didn’t like them as much because she prefers really crispy crunchy churros. For you booze hounds they are going to start importing (by this point they might already have) authentic Mexican tequila as well as already providing a few other alcoholic beverages and for those who aren’t big on the drink with lunch they also import a delicious Mexican soda called “Jarritos” which comes in either “Tamarind” or “Guava”.

The prices were pretty reasonable, ranging from $7.90 to $10.90 plus a little more for a drink and you won’t have any trouble finding the place, just look for the giant chandeliers made of empty Corona bottles or the huge mural of the Mexican wrestler! All in all, I’d have to say our experience at Mad Mex was muy bueno!

Violet and Jimmy dined at Mad Mex as their guests

 

Mad Mex - Fresh Mexican Grill on Urbanspoon

Review: Mamasita @ Melbourne CBD

Review: Mamasita @ Melbourne CBD



Mamasita.

The mere mention of that name brings up yet another word to mind : Queues.

Very long ones.

All my attempts at getting into Mamasita have been foiled by the crazy long queues and to be quite honest, no matter how good a restaurant was, I wasn’t about to wait 2 hours on a rumbling stomach for it. But one day I made a special attempt. I got there for lunch, right as they opened for business. And was it worth the hype, the queues and most importantly, the special trip?



I have been very uninspired to write this post. Perhaps it is largely due to the fact that I took very uninspiring photos of the food. The lighting wasn’t the best, and a better photographer than me could have done a better job. So I’m sorry if these photos are unappealing… that’s because they are! But how bout the food?

The soft-shelled tacos (Tacos de Resy Chorizo) were good. Very flavourful, moist and made even better by the bottles of habanero sauces that were on every table. My main complaint is that it was quite small. Perhaps I’m too greedy?



The quesadillas (Quesadilla de Huitlacoche) were nice but not very memorable. The flavours were present but a tad muted. Not very memorable at all.



The photo above will be the peak of all my uninspiring photos. I couldn’t get it to not look like a shapeless black pile, so I’m going to put you out of your misery and tell you that it was a Roasted lamb with red chilli adobo sauce, preserved jalapeno and mint which was memorable. But for all the wrong reasons. It was quite the disappointment and we actually regretted our choice. The piece of lamb was really small so I wasn’t quite sure what exactly the 26 dollars price tag was paying for, and it didn’t taste amazing either. Quite plain and lacking in dazzle.

If I had left Mamasita at this point, I wouldn’t have ever wanted to return. So far the food had been either alright or disappointing. No stars, no dazzle and no fireworks going off in my head had happened over the course of our meal. Especially because Mamasita isn’t exactly priced to be your cheap eats local joint either, I was definitely expecting a lot more than that. Should have ordered the corn on the cob tasting plate!

But as luck would have it, we ordered dessert. Two different desserts to share, and believe it or not, I do think that if only for the desserts alone, I will come back to Mamasita.



The Chocolate and Chilli Pudding with Chocolate and Cinnamon Sorbet was the star of the day. Rich chocolatey flavours, an oozey and gooey middle, not to mention the tiny sparks that were caused by the chilli. Mild but strong enough to remind you that it’s there… it all worked beautifully together and every bite was a luxurious and decadent affair. If there wasn’t that 2 hour queue every night, I’d be stopping by for dessert every chance I got. Just to eat this. Heaven on a plate!



The Coconut flan with prune syrup and sesame brittle wasn’t the star. Quite frankly, we really should have tried it before we tried the chocolate pudding, but since we didn’t, I don’t think we gave the coconut flan a fair go. After the orgasmic experience from the chocolate pudding, the coconut flan was rather plain. But again, this is of our own doing. We had a mild flavoured dessert and a strong flavoured dessert, and we went for the strong one first, so it’s our own fault that the coconut flan wasn’t given a chance to show its full potential.

All in all, it was a pleasant afternoon lunch. Again? Yes, if only because I’d like to try the corn on the cob and a few other dishes. Oh and to have more of that chocolate pudding. YUM!

And to address the questions people seem to have when it comes to Mamasita:

Overrated? Yes
Overhyped? Yes
Overpriced? Yes

Would I go again? Yes.

Sometimes, there’s no explaining what the tummy wants.

Mamasita

(03) 9650 3821
CBD
Level 1, 11 Collins St
Melbourne, 3000
Web: Mamasita

Mamasita on Urbanspoon

January Cookoff 2010: Mexican desserts



Welcome to the 2nd part of the Mexican January Cook off posts. (You can find Part 1 here.) Are you ready for the desserts?

In the serving order of the day, to start with we have:


Strawberry and Buttermilk Soup

Source: Mexican Dessert Recipes

Ingredients

* 2 pints ripe strawberries (reserve 6 for garnish)
* 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
* 6 ounces masa harina
* 2 cups water
* 2 cups buttermilk
* 1 stick canela (cinnamon)
* 4-5 mint leaves, dried and chopped fine or powdered Hoya Santa

Preparation:

1. Remove the hulls from the strawberries and wash. Cut into thin slices, place in a bowl and mix with ½ cup of the sugar. Stir occasionally. Puree strawberries in a blender and set aside.
2. Stir the masa harina into the water to dissolve; strain though sieve.
3. In a 2-quart saucepan, heat the masa mixture, milk and canela stick.
4. Cook over medium heat and stir continuously with a wooden spoon. When the atole thickens after approximately 3 to 4 minutes, reduce the heat to low and add ¾ cup of the sugar and the puree of strawberries.
5. Continue to cook for 5 minutes, stirring continuously. Add additional milk if necessary; the atole should have a slightly thick but pourable consistency. Strain into a serving bowl.
6. Chill the soup until it is sufficiently cold the soup should be served chilled.

To Serve

Pour into cups. Serve as a dessert soup garnished with fresh mint leaves, powdered mint a strawberry and some blueberries fanned out.

Chef notes:

While warm it tasted slightly sour as well as sweet. The sour-ness went away when the soup was chilled. Would recommend slightly less sugar as well, but this also depends on the original sweetness of your strawberries.


Tres Leche Cake

Source: Food Network


Ingredients
For the cake:

* Vegetable oil
* 6 3/4 ounces cake flour, plus extra for pan
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
* 4 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
* 8 ounces sugar
* 5 whole eggs
* 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the glaze:

* 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
* 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
* 1 cup half-and-half

For the topping:

* 2 cups heavy cream
* 8 ounces sugar
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the cake:
Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil and flour a 13 by 9-inch metal pan and set aside.
2. Whisk together the cake flour, baking powder and salt in a medium mixing bowl and set aside.
3. Place the butter into the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, beat on medium speed until fluffy, approximately 1 minute. Decrease the speed to low and with the mixer still running, gradually add the sugar over 1 minute. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl, if necessary. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and mix to thoroughly combine. Add the vanilla extract and mix to combine. Add the flour mixture to the batter in 3 batches and mix just until combined. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and spread evenly. This will appear to be a very small amount of batter. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until the cake is lightly golden and reaches an internal temperature of 200 degrees F.
4. Remove the cake pan to a cooling rack and allow to cool for 30 minutes. Poke the top of the cake all over with a skewer or fork. Allow the cake to cool completely and then prepare the glaze.

For the glaze:
1. Whisk together the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and the half-and-half in a 1-quart measuring cup. Once combined, pour the glaze over the cake. Refrigerate the cake overnight.

Topping:
1. Place the heavy cream, sugar and vanilla into the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, whisk together on low until stiff peaks are formed. Change to medium speed and whisk until thick. Spread the topping over the cake and allow to chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Chef notes:

  • The amount of sugar was halved in the whipped cream.Substitutions were made for the ingredients that were not available in Australia.
  • Half and half = melt 1 tablespoon of butter in an empty measuring cup (1 cup size). Add enough whole milk to fill the rest of the cup.
  • Cake flour = add 2 tablespoons of corn starch in an empty measuring cup (1 cup size). Add enough plain flour to fill the rest of the cup.
  • In future, not all the milk mixture will be added. The cake did not absorb all of the milk and a fair bit of it was found still in the tray.


Flan

Source: Knead-2-know

Please view source for recipe.

Chef notes

  • Media Creama was replaced with whipped thickened cream.
  • Other than that, recipe was followed to a T.
  • However for future reference, hot water should be used for the water bath instead of cold water. It should also be filled up to the middle of the tray. Using cold water as suggested resulted in half-set flan.

And there you have it. One cook off, 3 main dishes and 3 desserts. Together with beers and margaritas, it was an amazing night and we look forward to many more cook offs!

My personal belief is that the Mexican theme went really well, with recipes that I shall be adding to my everyday cooking routine. So with January coming to a close, we have decided upon the next theme:


February Theme: Red
To celebrate Chinese New Year and also Valentine’s day, the theme Red has been chosen. Again, interpretation of theme is up to the individual cook.

Enjoy! And I hope to see some of you joining in the cookoff!

January Cookoff 2010: Mexican



You will remember the Cook Off Monthly Challenges, with its rules and regulations stated here.

And it wouldn’t be fair if I were to suggest a challenge… and not fulfill it myself. Therefore….


The January Cook off was a success!! I think the sounds of the painful (from stomach explosions..) but contented groans coming from the diners after the meal was more than enough testament to an amazing dinner. But let us proceed with the dishes of the night.

There were 3 cooks for the night, and 6 diners in all. The cooks were: S, T and myself. (Please pardon the lack of personal names). Please note that none of the cooks had made any of these dishes or desserts before.

Let us start with the entry from S:



Stuffed Capsicums with Mexican Rice

The original recipe was from The Pioneer Woman. Have a read through and then come back and have a look through the comments that S made about her cooking experience:

Chef notes:

  • The rice was cooked in a rice cooker – 4 cups jasmine rice, 4 cups water and vegie stock powder. Only half the amount of rice suggested was actually used for the dish and in future, more stock powder will be added as the intial tasting merely tasted like plain rice.
  • Only 1 onion, 4 cloves garlic and 3 tomatoes were used.
  • I used 1 tablespoon chilli powder, and 1/2 tablespoon cumin and paprika… when I first tasted it, I felt like my mouth was on fire. But the next day, it actually became lovely and mild. So consider if you’re going to serve it fresh or not.
  • I added a small can of 4-Bean Mix… if I was just making the rice by itself, I would have added a bigger can.
  • As for the capsicums, I just washed them, cut them in half and sprayed both the pan and the outer skin with olive oil spray. Stuff as much rice as you like in (cold or hot), and bake for 30-45mins at 180C. Top with grated cheese and bake for another 5 mins. I just used plain cheddar cheese, but next time I think I’ll use half cheddar, half mozzarella for melty goodness!

S also contributed Guacamole to the table, which unfortunately I do not have a photo of.

Ingredients

* 1 large avocado, scooped out of shell and mashed
* 2 tablespoons sour cream
* 1 tablespoon salsa
* 1 garlic clove, pressed
* 1 tablespoon sweet onion, finely diced
* 1 teaspoon cilantro or parsley (note, some people find it vile)
* 1 tablespoon tomato, finely diced
* 2 teaspoons black olives, minced
* 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice or lime juice or balsamic vinegar
* salt, use less if you’ll refrigerate (you shouldn’t need much)

Directions:

1. Cut the avocado in half, scoop out the flesh with a spoon; mash 3/4 of it well and chop the remaining 1/4 coarsely (I do this with the spoon, in the avocado shell, before scooping the last bit out).
2. Mix it into the mashed portion.
3. Mix all remaining ingredients together.
4. Serve immediately, or cover with plastic wrap, pressing wrap firmly to surface of guacamole (or it will turn color due to oxidation) and refrigerate up to 4 hours before serving.

Source: Recipezaar.com

Chef notes:

  • No olives were used.

  • No salsa was readily available, so a tablespoon of chopped tomatoes and a bit more onion and garlic was added instead.
  • Preferable to sit around for about 20 minutes for the flavours to mix together.

From T we had:



Beef Enchilada & Bean Enchilada


Ingredients

*8 ounces ground beef
*1 10-ounce can enchilada sauce
*8 ounces shredded Monterey Jack cheese (2 cups)
*2 tablespoons cooking oil
*8 6-inch corn tortillas
*1 tomato, chopped
*Lettuce

Directions

1. In a medium skillet, brown the ground beef. Drain fat. Stir in 1/4 cup of the enchilada sauce and heat through. Stir in 1 cup of the cheese. Keep warm.
2. In another medium skillet or in a large heavy skillet, heat the 2 tablespoons of oil over low heat. Quickly dip tortillas, one at a time, in hot oil for 10 seconds or until just limp, adding more oil if needed. Drain on paper towels.
3. To assemble, brush one side of each tortilla with some enchilada sauce. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the meat mixture atop sauce near the edge of the tortilla; roll up. Place the enchiladas in a greased 12x7x2-inch baking dish (a 2-quart rectangular baking dish). Pour remaining enchilada sauce over the top.
4. Cover the baking dish with foil. Bake in a 350 degree F oven about 25 minutes or until mixture is heated through.
5. Remove foil. Sprinkle remaining cheese over enchiladas. Bake enchiladas for 2 minutes more or till cheese melts.
6. Serve enchiladas with chopped tomato and lettuce. Makes 4 servings.

Source: Recipe.com

Chef notes:

Basically the same as above recipe, we just added more spices for better kick. And we had a separate pan for beans and did the same thing.

And from myself, we had:



Chihuahua Rice


Ingredients

* 1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice
* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* 2 garlic cloves, crushed
* 2 tablespoons finely chopped pickled jalapeno chillies
* 1 brown onion, finely chopped
* 1 carrot, finely chopped
* 1 yellow capsicum, finely chopped
* 200g green beans, cut into 3cm lengths
* 400g can lentils, drained, rinsed
* 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

Directions

1. Cook rice following packet directions. Cool. Stir with a fork to separate grains.
2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add garlic, chillies, onion, carrot and capsicum. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until vegetables are just tender.
3. Add beans and lentils. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until beans are tender and lentils heated through. Stir in parsley. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Add vegetable mixture to rice. Stir gently to combine. Serve.

Source: Taste.com.au

Chef notes:

This was so easy! Perfect for a quick dinner especially if you have all the ingredients prepared the previous day. Just toss it together at the end of a busy day and you will have a really yummy dinner all done up.

And that sums up the three main dishes that were presented for the very first Cook Off! My personal favourite was the Enchiladas. Every bite was an explosion of flavour and I’d gladly have that on my table again. Next post: the desserts!